Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Guardian Goes Off The Rails Again


The Guardian really does have some disingenuous half-wits writing for it. Here we have Patrick Collinson ranting about rail price hikes and complaining that:

“In reality, fare increases aren't really paying for infrastructure but are instead covering the gradual withdrawal of government subsidies, which have fallen by 9% in real terms since 2010-11.”

Well whoopedoo, what about that – the taxpayers are paying less in subsidies, with the fares actually being paid for by…..wait for it……the people who actually use the trains. Surely not!! Contrary to Patrick Collinson’s wishes, most of us humans have evolved to understand that privatisation is not the bogey that the old socialists used to make it out to be, but the most efficient, right and proper state of affairs for the majority of industry. Why should the council maintenance man pay to subsidise the broker’s commuting? When you multiply those types of example nationwide you see how preposterous it is. Next we have this absurd swipe at profits:

“Passengers are also paying for the vast profits made by the rolling stock companies formed at privatisation. Just one, Angel Trains, made £372m in 2013 by its measure of underlying profitability.”

That’s the kind of squalid statement that sets out to paint a railway company as being greedy, unsympathetic fiends – when, in fact, a bit of digging shows the crassness attached to the claim. Sure, £372m is a big profit, but what does that actually amount to per customer? I can’t find any precise figures for Angel Trains rail users per year, but I did find out one or two things which will help. Angel Trains has 4,500 vehicles, which even at an outrageously meagre estimate of 10,000 passengers per vehicle per year works out at 45 million passengers. Divide the £372m profit by 45 million passengers and it works out at just over £8 per year “underlying profit” made on each person. Half the amount of passengers and it’s still only a profit of £16 per year per person – hardly the sort of profit that can be said to be ‘vast’ and worthy of public opprobrium.

But on top of that, I noticed that Angel Trains have invested over £3.4 billion in new rolling stock and refurbishment programmes since 1994, as well as donating over £135,000 to numerous charities since 2008.

I know being on the economic left entails the default position that success in business should be sneered at with socialist agitprop, but they really ought to be a little bit more responsible when it comes to the companies they are smearing with their conspiracy theorist anti-privatisation propaganda.


EDIT TO ADD: As is usually the case, the measure of success is in the evidence. Here's evidence that the number of rail passengers has doubled in the times of privatisation, following years of decline under the State: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Great_Britain#mediaviewer/File:GBR_rail_passenegers_by_year.gif
 

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